Digital public defence: Elisabeth Martinsen Goffeng

Kandidat i sykepleievitenskap Elisabeth Martinsen Goffeng at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis Extended workdays, compressed work periods, fatigue and cardiovascular strain – A study of  health care workers and airline crew for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The digital defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

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Digital trial lecture - time and place

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Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Adjunct Professor Mikael Sallinen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  • Second opponent: Professor Hans P.A. Van Dongen, Washington State University, USA
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Associate Professor Anne Olaug Olsen, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo

Chair of defence

Professor emeritus Øivind Larsen, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo

Principal supervisor

Jenny-Anne Sigstad Lie, National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI), Oslo


Organization of work hours influences sleep, recovery and circadian rhythms, and may lead to fatigue and cardiovascular strain if time for rest and recovery is insufficient.
Extended workdays may represent an external stressor causing increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system.

In her dissertation Extended workdays, compressed work periods, fatigue and cardiovascular strain, Elisabeth Goffeng and co-workers investigated whether such work hours result in fatigue-related errors and increased cardiovascular strain among health care workers and airline crew. Heart rate variability (HRV) was measured during work, rest, and sleep, to evaluate the activity in the sympathetic nervous system. 

Fatigue was measured by two neurobehavioural tests. Questionnaires and work/sleep diaries were completed during workdays.

The test-results among airline crew revealed significantly prolonged reaction time with increasing number of flights during the work period. Precision remained unchanged. Reported fatigue and sleep length during the work period did not affect performance.
HRV in health care workers indicated higher cardiovascular strain the first compared to the fourth shift. In airline crew indications of increasing cardiovascular strain was seen during the work period.

Among pilots, an association between reported high workload and cardiovascular strain was observed. Among cabin crewmembers, increased sleep duration before workdays, and longer breaks were associated with reduced cardiovascular strain. Nocturnal HRV-measures and diaries indicated that participants in all three occupational groups recovered well during and after the work period.

Mixed findings between the occupational groups indicate that workhours and shift schemes only explain some of the response patterns in the study. Factors related to work tasks are also of importance when studying development of fatigue and cardiovascular strain.

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Published May 27, 2020 11:46 AM - Last modified June 15, 2020 9:19 AM